"We have hetaerae for pleasure, pallakae to care for our daily body’s needs and gynaekes to bear us legitimate children and to be faithful guardians of our households." Demosthenes

Neaira or Neaera (b. ca. 400 BC) was a famous courtesan of Corinth. She lived with an Athenian citizen Stephanos. His political opponents Apollodorus and Theomnestes prosecuted Neaira between 343 and 340 BC that she violated the marriage laws of Athens. It was forbidden foreign women or women who were prostitutes or Hetaerai to marry Athenians. Stephanos claimed that the mother of his children (Proxenus, Ariston and Phano) was his former wife although Neaira was their real mother. Therefore also his daughter Phano was not allowed to marry an Athenian (She married the Archon Basileus Theogenes).

Neaira was sold as a young slave girl to Nicarete of Corinth. She was educated as a Hetaera. As her clients we know the poet Xenocleides and the actor Hipparchus, Timanoridas the Corinthian and Eucrates the Leucadian who said that they have to pay 30 minae for Neaira to Nicarete.

She was released from slavery with the help of Phrynion but she was not allowed to return to Corinth.

With her three children she went to Athens and two years later to Megara. There she met the Athenian Stephanos and she returned as his wife to Athens.

Her life is known from the a text of (pseudo?) Demosthenes of her trial


I must now prove to you that this woman Neaera is an alien, that she is living with this man Stephanus as his wife, and that she has violated the laws of the state in many ways...

There were these seven girls who were purchased while they were small children by Nicaretê, who was the freedwoman of Charisius the Elean and the wife of his cook Hippias. She was skilled in recognizing the budding beauty of young girls and knew well how to bring them up and train them artfully; for she made this her profession, and she got her livelihood from the girls.

Primary Sources


Debra Hamel ", Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece , Yale University Press 2003, ISBN 0300094310

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